By Darren Griffiths

The Best Towns and Places to Stay in the Algarve, Portugal

28th March 2023

Last updated on June 14th, 2023 at 04:45 am

Are you considering a nice trip to a sunny and warm region you haven’t visited before? Algarve is the place considered Heaven on Earth! There are many breathtaking places to visit, however, we have listed the best towns in Algarve that are truly worth your precious vacation time.

With the mesmerizing sights, great weather, stunning beaches to see, and buzzing nightlife, you will not regret packing your luggage for this part of southern Portugal.

The Algarve is on its own a vacation destination but is also a must if you’re looking for inspiration for your 7 days or two weeks in Portugal itinerary.

There are many breathtaking places to visit, however, we have listed the best towns in Algarve that are truly worth your precious vacation time.

Related articles:
The Best Things to do in the Algarve
12 Stunning Best Resorts in The Algarve
7 Days in The Algarve Itinerary & Algarve Weekend Itinerary

Faro

First on this list of our favourite towns in the Algarve is Faro. It’s maybe the best place to stay in Algarve and most certainly one of the towns in the Algarve region that is a must to visit.

Colorful buildings of Faro, Algarve
Colorful buildings of Faro, Algarve

The rich history of this town, close to the Spanish border, is seen in its ancient preserved walls and stone-paved small paths.

It’s a charming town (especially the Old Town) with many shopping places for all shopaholics. For those seeking some peace and relaxation, the Old Town has gorgeous calm plazas where you can play domino and marvel at the sights.

You will get the chance to see visit Ria Formosa natural park with heavenly wildlife species, along with the islands that unravel stunning beaches. A boat trip from Faro to Ria Formosa Natural Park is a highlight of anyone’s first time in the Algarve.

The cuisine is just as perfect; all sorts of cheeses and olives, main dishes of fresh seafood, cured meat sandwiches, and nice local pastries and beers.

As far as nightlife goes, you will be even more thrilled! The ‘Columbus Cocktail & Wine Bar’ is magical with its vibrant colours and lighting and exquisite service, not to mention creativity in cocktails.

The ‘Os Aristas’ bar is located in a mystic, non-renovated building which suits its bohemian style and alternative atmosphere of live music and exhibitions. 

The distance from the airport to Faro Old Town is 6.2 km and takes about 11 minutes.

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Check out our full guide to the best things to do in Faro
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where to stay in Faro area breakdown!

Portimao

Of the most beautiful towns in the Algarve region is also one of the largest ones.

Portimao and the Arade River, Algarve, Portugal
Portimao and the Arade River, Algarve, Portugal

It faces the gorgeous Arade River, but the beautiful beaches surrounding the town, most especially Praia da Rocha, make this a very special destination.

It’s full of resorts, apartments, and hotels, not to mention countless bars, coffee shops, shopping streets, and even nightclubs.

What is unique about this place is the visual & cultural mix of the 19th and 20th centuries with interesting buildings in several colours all at once, making the blocks in neighbourhoods cheerful and artsy.

In the Expo-Trade Center, you can enjoy many sports events or even exhibitions.

As you walk through these streets you’ll stop by the many gift shops and also sense the smell of fish restaurants and BBQ bars as well!

Portimao waterfront, Algarve, Portugal
Portimao waterfront, Algarve, Portugal

Among the best towns in Algarve is Portimao since the foods and drinks are quite flawless; lamb delicacies, spicy sauces, and seafood too. ‘

Casa da Tocha’ is the best-rated pub for tasty meals and a wide selection of drinks in a pleasant atmosphere.

Do not miss out on the ‘Mourisco Cocktail Bar’ (in Alvor fishing town, in Portimao) with stunning indie-décor, unique drinks, dimmed lights, and friendly staff. 

Also, the ‘Bolan Bar’ if you like crowds, art, and portraits on the walls, fun and happy people – this is for you. And you can even sign your name on the outside bar walls as well!

The distance from the airport to Portimao is 72 km and takes about 50 minutes.

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Check out our full guide to the best things to do in Portimao
Check out our recommendations for
where to stay in Portimao, the best areas and hotels!

Lagos

Among the best towns in Algarve, there is one considered a ‘must-see’, literally. Lagos is probably the best place to stay in the Algarve region, and there are too many reasons to do so.

Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Portuga
Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Portugal

Its rich history will mesmerize you along the beautiful beaches and turquoise water.

More than many of the other charming towns in the Algarve, Lagos blends history and modern culture perfectly, with the Old Town surrounded by Moor-style walls and stunning sights on the harbours.

There is everything for everyone’s taste; waterparks for daily fun, Algarve hiking treks for nature enthusiasts, and many historic monuments for curious travellers.

In the Ponta da Piedade area, you’ll marvel at the sea caves and cliffs from above. Lagos takes pride in having the 4 km longest beach in Algarve too.

Church and streetscape in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal
Church and streetscape in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

The food is flawless, both in restaurants and street food corners too; bean cakes, puffy doughnuts, roast plantains, kebabs and jerkies, and much more.

Then, get ready for the night out and head to ‘MJ’s Bar’ for the friendliest staff, delicious cocktails for reasonable prices, and vintage music.

Another good one is ‘The Star’ bar with sophisticated, fancy décor, karaoke, and quiz games nights – completely worth the 5 stars rating!

The distance from Faro airport to Lagos Old Town is 90 km and takes about 1hr. 

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best things to do in Lagos. 

Tavira

The Algarve destinations are all gorgeous and the Tavira is one of them which must be listed.

best towns in algarve tavira

The history of this town is linked to the Moorish traditions, thus the infrastructure is so unique and Moorish influence is quite noticeable.

As you walk through the town you can marvel at the gorgeous Gialo River that blends with the Moorish architecture as well as churches too.

The narrow cobbled streets will make walking around town enjoyable as you grasp the beauty of the plazas beside the streets.

Such places in Algarve, like Tavira, have heavenly beaches next to Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Tavira is also famous for its local-produced wine of perfect aroma and taste, as well as places that play music until you see the romantic sunrise.

Tavira waterfront at night, Algarve, Portugal
Tavira waterfront at night, Algarve, Portugal

The tasty foods are also ‘a must’ here and everything has an affordable price; amazing local Portuguese wines and even ‘green wine’ similar to champagne and served with chicken or fish and local Portuguese dishes.

For the most colourful drinks, philanthropic atmosphere, and wooden homely interior, visit the ‘Reillys Irish Bar’.

The ‘Hello A&D’ bar leaves everyone gasping due to the ‘galactic-lights’, vintage small interior, and unique drinks like tea with gin and tonic! 

The distance from Faro airport to Tavira is 40 km and takes about 30 minutes.

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And our guide to the
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Albufeira

On the list of best towns in Algarve, there has to be Albufeira mentioned as well. It has a lively and incredibly happy atmosphere that bursts with energy, sunshine, and gorgeous sights.

best towns in algarve albufeira

The stunning beaches leave you breathless and the climate is just perfect to relax and feel vibrant again. This place is never silent or ‘resting’ – many clubs, restaurants and fun nightlife are the proof of it.

Once a fishing village, now Albufeira is one of the best places in Algarve. There is something for everyone, from family activities to nightlife for young people.

One thing that makes Albufeira famous is the vivant partying and nightlife with many clubs and bars on ‘The Strip’ street.

Apart from that, for families with kids, there are lots of waterparks and theme parks as well – the perfect place for all age groups!

Albufeira beach, sunset, Algarve, Portugal
Albufeira beach, sunset, Algarve, Portugal

In the Old Town, you’ll marvel at the cobbled streets and plazas, small pubs and restaurants, compared to ‘The Strip’ of course.

The local wine is delicious and produced in Albufeira and nearby local places, and the beer ‘Sagres’ is the best known locally-produced beer.

The gastronomy here is astonishing – you can try local seafood, Chinese, Indian, Italian, German cuisine and even British food and many roast types!

Then, head to ‘Sherry’s Bar’ for great music and drinks and a friendly atmosphere. 

Distance from Faro airport to Albufeira Old Town: 46 km or 37 minutes.

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Check out our full guide to the best things to do in Albufeira
And
where to stay in Albufeira – the best areas!

Carvoeiro

Do you need to find the best place to stay in Algarve? It is Carvoeiro probably! A place that looks like a work of art – lively colours, lively atmosphere, and a storybook charm!

best towns in algarve carvoeiro

For a relaxing and calm vacation, this glorious place is the perfect choice with its adorable bars and smooth-sandy beaches.

There are many hiking trails for those in love with nature, also a lot of water activities like kayaking and sports for daytime fun on the beach.

Breathtaking cliffs, grottos and mesmerizing caves and boat tours to see all of this beauty at once.

Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal
Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal

Quite suitable for young people as well as families with children and, it is not overcrowded as other places which makes it perfect for a real resting holiday trip.

The Praia Paraiso beach is the real paradise – as the name itself explains it!

There’s plenty of amazing seafood and local wine and beer, but do not miss out on the gorgeous ‘gelato’ ice cream too. 

The ‘Tropical Helders Bar’ has a homely charm to it, gorgeous seafood, seafood pizzas, pasta in big servings, and meat platters – all while you feel comfortable in such a relaxed, calm atmosphere.

Distance from Faro airport to Carvoeiro: 65 km or 48 minutes.

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Check out our full guide to the best things to do in Carvoeiro

Vilamoura

To figure out which place to visit out of all the best towns in Algarve, Vilamoura will surely be a good choice.

best towns in algarve vilamoura

Located in the south of this Portuguese region, there is plenty to see apart from beautiful beaches and sunny weather.

The surprise comes with the sophisticated golf course ‘The Old Course’, resorts, astonishing nature, water parks, theme parks, and a fancy marina with numerous exclusive hotels and exquisite restaurants.

It is a place that reflects luxury through gorgeous yachts – suitable for tourists that enjoy luxurious trips.

Crystal water, long sandy beaches, and water sports sound perfect already? The historic part of the city offers a glimpse of the local culture and traditions.

Vilamoura, Quarteira, Portugal
Vilamoura, Quarteira, Portugal

Gastronomy is just as perfect here; The ‘Braganca Mar’ has the most delicious cheesecakes and desserts, perfectly cooked steaks at a fair price, and spicy mushrooms and kebabs – so you will certainly want more of this place!

Enjoy the sights of palm trees and sunsets in the fancy, elite setting of the ‘Atlantic Piano Bar’, or maybe you’d prefer the ‘Biddy Jane’s’ bar for live music, dimmed lights, relaxed parties, and friendly, creative bartenders.

A short trip from the airport and you will arrive at one of the best Algarve destinations! If you need a place to stay, check out Global Guardians for the closest property in your area.

Distance from Faro airport to Vilamoura: 24 km or 28 minutes.

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Check out our where to stay in Vilamoura area breakdown!
Check out our full guide to the
best things to do in Vilamoura.

Other Towns in the Algarve to Visit

We have shared with you our favourite Algarve towns where we know you’ll love the gorgeous beaches, town center, and tourist attractions of each place.

But there are just so many beautiful towns in Algarve Portugal that our ‘best runners’ up list is also second to none, so if you get time for a day trip or want to branch out to find your own small town to stay in, check out these nearby towns:

Loulé

The Loulé town center is full of historic landmarks, like the belfry of St. Clemen’s Church which is a minaret from the original Moorish mosque that stood on the site.

You’ll find restored castle walls, historic buildings, and Roman ruins, and you’re only a stone’s throw from Faro – one of the best beach towns on the Algarve’s stunning coastline.

Monchique

Monchique is not often on the “A” list of towns in the Algarve, especially for first-time visitors to Algarve, Portugal. That’s because it’s not surrounded by gorgeous beaches.

But there is something else that makes it a special place to visit – it is located in the Serra de Monchique mountains and while there are nearby beaches on the Algarve coastline only a few miles away, the hiking and walking trails.

The Algarve is on its own a vacation destination but is also a must if you’re looking for inspiration for your 7 days or two weeks in Portugal itinerary.


Other useful resources or check out all our Portugal content
here.
Two Weeks in Portugal Itinerary
Things to do in Vila Nova de Milfontes
Things to do in Lisbon
Things to do in Porto
Things to do in Evora